Statement on Palestine, 19 May 2021

May 19, 2021

The Australian government must call on the Israeli Netanyahu government to immediately cease the bombing of Gaza, and restrain the attacks on Palestinian communities in cities in Israel, and settler attacks on Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories. The rockets from Islamic Jihad and Hamas must stop.

Australia must immediately implement a humanitarian aid program for Gaza following the destruction of water, electricity and medical services and the resultant humanitarian catastrophe cause by this latest war. This has added to the existing severe impact of the COVID -19 pandemic on Palestinians increasing the burden of illness and mortality, with long term social and economic results.

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA has been working successfully with Palestinian organisations for over 30 years and more recently has been implementing a large agriculture program in the West Bank and Gaza, which has funding from the Australian government until September 2021. In Gaza, we have a project coordinator, Ms Hana Abu Nahla, and staff members of MA’AN Development Center, and Asala, the Palestinian Businesswomen’s Association, along with participating farmers, women working in food processing, and local businesses. The project was able to rapidly address the new urgent food security needs created by the pandemic.

Our Palestinian partner organisations are already providing emergency support to communities in Gaza affected by the bombing. After the invasion of Gaza in 2014, the Australian government gave $4 million to Australian and Palestinian NGOs for psychosocial support for children and to achieve rapid recovery of food production.

The current conflict is destroying achievements in this project, and additional resources should be allocated to restore critical food production and markets for local farmers.

With so many in the Australian community deeply connected to people in the Middle East, Australia should urgently implement an emergency humanitarian program and extend existing aid to Gaza through the Australian NGOs currently operating there alongside local organisations, and restore adequate funding to the UN agencies on whom the majority of Gazans, who are refugees, depend.

This statement should be read in conjunction with the ACTU statement:

Crisis intensifies in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank

We urgently need your help. The crisis is unfolding on top of the collapse of the economy and health system due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the Australian government reducing aid to the region, organisations like APHEDA have an increased responsibility to stand with Palestinians and to work in solidarity with those in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as they respond to the deteriorating situation and work towards rebuilding their lives and livelihoods.

Show your solidarity. Support our End of Financial Year appeal and help fund urgent humanitarian projects in Gaza and the West Bank today.

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